Snacks don’t have to be weight loss killers. If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, the key is smart snacking, not giving it up altogether. “Snacking is an opportunity to fuel your body between meals,” nutritionist Rania Batayneh, author of The One One One Diet, told Health. Cut out the late afternoon nibbles, and you may end up raiding the bread basket at dinner. Rather than chowing down on chips or a candy bar, try these five healthier snack swaps to keep your weight loss plan on track.
1. Savory Spiced Nuts
Substitute for: Salty snack mixes
Prepackaged snack mixes are often loaded with salt. A 1.75-ounce package of traditional Chex Mix contains 370 milligrams of sodium, 15% of your recommended daily intake. Salt by itself won’t make you gain weight, but it can make you feel less trim. “Eating salt does not directly increase body fat, but it can increase water retention, which would show up on the scale,” Lisa Moscovitz, R.D., CEO of the NY Nutrition Group, told Shape.
Instead of the snack mix, reach for a handful of these savory spiced nuts, which are low in salt. Fatty nuts are high in calories, though, so make sure that you watch your portions. But don’t let the calorie-count scare you off entirely — when consumed in moderation, nuts may actually help you lose weight, studies have found. Recipe from Food.com.
- Large egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon curry
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups mixed nuts
Directions: Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, whisk together the egg white and water until foamy. Toss the egg and water mixture with the nuts. Pour the nuts into a strainer and strain for 3 minutes.
Place the nuts in a brown paper bag, add the spices, and shake until the nuts are fully coated with the seasonings.
Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir. Lower the oven temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for another hour, stirring occasionally.
Turn the oven off and cool the nuts inside, with the oven door propped open. When nuts are completely cool, remove from oven and store in an airtight container.
2. Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas
Substitute for: Honey-roasted peanuts
Peanuts are a tasty and reasonably healthy snack, but like other nuts, they’re high in fat and calories. If you’re looking for a lower-cal alternative to honey-roasted peanuts, reach for these sweet roasted chickpeas. As an added bonus, eating chickpeas may also help you feel full for longer and eat fewer processed foods, a 2010 study published in the journal Appetite found. Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.
- 1 (15-ounce can) chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold water, and lay on a paper towel to dry. Peel chickpeas if you prefer them without their skins.
Whisk together the oil, cinnamon, and sugar in a small bowl. Add the chickpeas to the bowl and stir until all the beans are evenly coated.
Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The chickpeas will be crunchy and not soft in the middle when done.
Remove the chickpeas from the oven, place in bowl, and coat with honey. Return the chickpeas to the baking sheet and let them dry. Store in an airtight container.
3. Baked Banana Chips
Substitute for: Packaged banana chips
Munching on store-bought banana chips may seem like a healthy alternative to chips or pretzels, but the packaged versions of this tasty snack are often packed with extra sugar and fat. A single serving of Great Value brand banana chips from Walmart contains 10 grams of fat (including 7 grams of saturated fat), though bananas on their own are virtually fat free. Fortunately, you can easily cut the fat by making your own banana chips at home. This recipe from Naturally Ella (originally published on A Sweet Road) requires just two ingredients and is incredibly easy to prepare.
- 2 or 3 perfectly ripe bananas
- Lemon juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the bananas into ⅛-inch slices (more thickly cut slices will take longer to cook). Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lay the banana slices on the parchment-covered sheet and brush with lemon juice.
Place the sliced bananas in the oven and bake for 2 to 3 hours, until they are completely dried out. After 90 minutes of cooking, check the bananas and try lifting them off the parchment paper to help the air circulate and reduce the moisture in the bananas.
When banana slices are completely dry, remove them from the oven. Let them cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The chips will get crispier as they cool. If you’re chips aren’t getting crispy after 5 minutes of cooling time, return them to the oven and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Power Berry Smoothie
Substitute for: A milkshake or other frozen dessert
On hot summer days, it’s tempting to treat yourself to a milkshake or other sweet ice cream treat. While a snack from Dairy Queen may taste good, it’s definitely not good for you – a medium Oreo Cookie Blizzard is a staggering 790 calories and has 30 grams of fat. You can curb your sugar craving and cool down at the same time by mixing up this berry smoothie. The generous 1½-cup serving is only 139 calories and is very low in fat. Recipe from Health.
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened soy protein powder
Directions: Combine ingredients in a blender. Purée until smooth; drink immediately.
5. Baked Zucchini Chips
Substitute for: Potato chips
You already know that potato chips are the opposite of a health food, but that isn’t going to stop your craving for something salty and crunchy. Rather than succumbing to the lure of the vending machine, keep a container of these homemade zucchini chips on hand to sate your hunger. They’re lower in fat and salt than a bag of chips, plus the paprika can help speed up your metabolism and curb your appetite, registered dietitian Lauren Minchen told Redbook. Recipe from A Spicy Perspective.
- 4 large zucchini, evenly sliced ⅛-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
Directions: Slice the zucchini very thin. (Using a mandoline will help make sure that all your chips are roughly the same size, which means they’ll cook evenly.) Preheat the over to 235 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the zucchini in a single layer on some paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels, then cover with a baking sheet. Apply pressure to the baking sheet to remove some of the moisture from the sliced zucchini.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush the paper with olive oil. Place a single layer of zucchini slices on the oiled parchment (try to fit as many zucchini slices as you can onto each sheet). Brush the zucchini slices with olive oil, then sprinkle on salt, paprika, and cumin.
Place the zucchini in the oven and bake for 1½ to 2 hours, until the chips are crisp and golden-colored. If not all your chips are crisp at the end of the cooking time, remove the ones that are done and allow the rest to cook for a few more minutes. Cool chips on paper towels and store in an air-tight container (they’ll keep for several weeks).
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